New guidelines for the future carbon-proofing of real estate

by Search Gate staff. Published Sat 30 Jan 2010 18:53, Last updated: 2010-01-30
Buildings need to be "less of a climate change culprit"

Property consultants Jones Lang LaSalle has released a report aimed at equipping UK real estate professionals with an understanding of why action needs to be taken now, both to mitigate the risks of high impact buildings and also to adapt portfolios in order to withstand inevitable climatic changes.

Commenting on the issue, Julie Hirigoyen, lead director of Upstream, Jones Lang LaSalle’s Sustainability Services team, said: “With the built environment estimated to contribute around 45% of carbon dioxide emissions in the UK through heating, cooling, lighting and power, the property industry is being targeted as a potential solution to the problem.”

Julie continued: “Over the next decade, it is likely that capital and rental values will gradually reflect the respective energy and carbon intensity of buildings, and their capacity to cope in different climatic conditions. For this reason, pressing action is required to transform the built environment into less of a climate change culprit and make it more resilient to the risks posed by climate change.

“From Sandbags to Solar Panels will assist property professionals who are looking to address such strategic risks and offers both practical advice and guidance on how to do so.”

Jones Lang LaSalle’s paper emphasises two principal proactive actions that real estate professionals can take:

* Mitigation covers all those actions with the potential to reduce the energy demand of a building, and all those that seek to decarbonise its energy supply. Therefore, mitigating actions should be undertaken at all of the key intervention points in a building’s lifecycle Examples of such mitigating actions are as follows: when acquiring a building, investors should enquire about Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs) and BREEAM, LEED or Code for Sustainable Homes Ratings prior to acquiring an asset, and obtain historical data about the building’s actual performance.

Occupiers on the other hand, should investigate a building’s reliance on central energy supplies such as grid electricity, to predict their exposure to supply failures, and investigate the feasibility of alternative energy sources.

* Adaptation, conversely, deals with today’s reality and reducing climate change risks. We are facing, as a result of past activities and further unavoidable emission levels in the 2010s and 2020s, increased flood risk, heat stress, drought and wind damage, and further physical risks that have implications for the built environment. The scale of the threat is substantial so adaptation therefore requires us to take action to reduce the risk and damage that ‘built in’ climate changes might pose to property.

Using the same building lifecycle example – this time in relation to adaptation, when acquiring a building, investors should incorporate future flood and energy infrastructure risk assessments into the screening process for a new acquisition of land or property. Whereas occupiers should incorporate transport accessibility and infrastructure provision into the screening process for new acquisitions so as to evaluate potential risk exposure.

Julie Hirigoyen, concluded: “Large corporate occupiers have to contend with both UK and global climate risk. Workplaces could be impacted directly by heat waves and flooding through the loss of working days. Productivity and profitability could also be affected through damage to infrastructure and transport accessibility.

“Occupiers should develop clear lines of communication with landlords in order to better understand the potential risks of climatic disruption and put business continuation plans in place to cope with such risks unfolding.”

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